Parks Canada Agency Laboratories

Parks Canada, Ottawa, Ontario
What the facility does

Conservation, preventive conservation and analysis of historic objects

Areas of expertise

The Parks Canada Agency Laboratories focus on the study of cultural heritage materials which involves their conservation and analysis. The conservation encompasses preventive, remedial and restoration actions that are all completed in our laboratories. These are: monitor and interpret environmental conditions (temperature, relative humidity, light, vibrations, etc.); training and advice to safeguard objects in storage and on exhibit; perform scientific imaging of objects/collections (radiography, 3D laser scanning, infrared (IR) photography, photogrammetry, etc.). A variety of equipment is used to complete the least intrusive, reversible treatments for objects (stabilization, cleaning, freeze dryers, vacuums, sand blasters, etc.); appropriate supports/mounts are built for storage or exhibit purposes; reproductions are created through free hand sculpting, fabrication or moulds for display or interpretive purposes (mixing resins, plasters and/or rubbers). As far as the analysis of works of art and archaeological objects is concerned, the work performed at the laboratory includes the preparation and analysis of samples as well as the interpretation of results collected through analytical instrumentation (Gas chromatography – Mass spectrometry (py-GC/MS), Scanning Electron Microscope - Energy Dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (SEM/EDS), Raman and Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR) spectroscopies, X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF), microscopy).

Research services

Providing conservation and analytical services for Parks Canada Agency’s sites for the care of artifacts. Analytical instrumentation is used to identify and characterize cultural heritage materials in order to shed light on their material history and technology of manufacture as well as on their stability and deterioration.

Sectors of application
  • Arts and cultural industries



Leica Carbon coater,

Model EM ACE600

Carbon coating of non-conductive samples prior to Scanning Electron Microscopy / Energy Dispersive X-ray Spectroscopy (SEM/EDS) characterization

Tescan Vega 3 LMU Scanning Electron Microscope integrated with an Oxford Inca Energy 250XT silicon drift X-ray detector

Imaging of micro-structure and elemental analysis to determine composition of solid samples

Bruker Tracer 5i portable XRF (X-Ray Fluorescence)

Material characterization of solids and liquids

Bruker ALPHA FTIR (Fourier Transform Infrared Spectrometer) – reflectance and transmittance

Spectroscopic technique that is used for the chemical characterization of materials

Bruker Senterra/Bruker MultiRam/Bruker RamanScope

Spectroscopic technique that is used in chemistry to provide a structural fingerprint by which molecules can be identified

Torrex 120 X-ray inspection system

X-ray radiography of small/less denser objects such as coins, buttons, etc.

Phillips (Macrotank G300) X-ray industrial radiography tube

X-ray radiography of large/dense objects

SP Scientific Freeze Dryer (Model 36DX84)

Vacuum freeze dryer suitable for dehydrating organic material (for example wood, leather)

Raymond fork lift (model EASI)

Battery operated fork lift to lift heavy equipment/objects on a skid
Shaw-Box 10 tons overhead crane (2) A crane consisting of a girder or girders, mounted on end carriages which travel along a gantry used to lift very heavy equipment

Zeltex polycolor Dyeing machine Model P-29

Laboratory dyeing machine  used for testing colours; also used for dyeing wool (and other types)  
Spray booth Large spray booth chamber used to paint very large objects. Located in Common staging.
Blasting booth Large blasting booth chamber used to clean the metal surface on very large objects. Located in Common staging.